Middle East

Battle for the soul of Bolic

Jorge G Casta? eda / Mexico City

• The 35-year-old former student leader has won not only his more moderate and traditional older members, but also his younger and more radical supporters.

Chile has long been like a bell in Latin America. Therefore, when Chilean voters elected left-wing Gabriel Bolick, a 35-year-old former student leader, as president on Sunday, other parts of Latin America wanted to know. What does this mean for Chile and for us?
First, it is worth scrutinizing the results themselves. Nearly 56 percent of the votes, Boric won by more than 10 percent points. This is huge by Chilean standards. Since 1989, when democracy regained, most presidents have only secured a 4-point or 5-point lead. Still, the far-right runner-up, Jose Antonio Cust, not only won the first round of the election, but also won a substantial 44% of the final vote.
In fact, the results of the latest elections reflect the results of the 1988 referendum on whether Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet since 1973 could extend his control for another eight years. Pinochet’s supporters have lost, but the far right of the country is alive and still alive. The final vote is always a two-round system, but the division between Chileans seems to be particularly sharp, fairly uniform and very durable.
But most importantly, it has implications for the Chilean and Latin American left. In the first round, Bolic formed an alliance with the Communist Party, the so-called Broadfront (composed of movements other than the Left and Socialist parties), and a heterogeneous group of various environmental and feminist groups.
However, in the second round, Bolic further expanded this coalition with the addition of socialists, political parties for central leftist democracy, Christian democracies, and other centrist political organizations. So, as Chilean political scientist Patricio Navia asks, which of the two alliances will rule, and which platform will the Bolick administration stand on?
The predictions here are that Chileans have low wages, inadequate housing, private pension schemes, expensive and complex health care systems, environmental degradation, and the rights of women and indigenous peoples. Eventually, the protest was summarized in the fight against inequality.
For many Chileans, the economic “miracle” benefits of the country did not seem to be evenly distributed, despite the significant reduction in poverty. Still, the Gini coefficient (zero for perfect equality and 1 for perfect inequality) shows that Chile’s inequality has decreased from .55 in 2000 to .51 in 2019 over the last 20 years. is showing. (Despite the rise from .48 in 2015).
In any case, Boric’s original platform has addressed many of the protesters’ specific complaints. He promised to provide universal insurance, review the pension system, raise the minimum wage, eliminate student debt and shorten working weeks. He will fund higher social spending by as much as 8% of GDP by increasing government revenues, especially by taxing large corporations and wealthy individuals.
It wasn’t a revolutionary program, but it was certainly ambitious. And many could be in line with the position of the Left Constitutional Assembly, which was elected earlier this year. (An organization of 155 members was created after the 2019 demonstration and is obliged to draft a new constitution at the request of protesters.)
However, when Bolic moved to reach out to former presidents Ricardo Lagos and Michelle Bachelet in the second round, blaming Concertación, the political alliance that dominated Chile’s economic miracle. Softened his approach. His second round platform was still very reformist, including many versions of his original promise, but not so radical.
But in the end, Bolick’s victory owes not only to his more moderate and traditional older members, but also to his younger and more radical supporters. This means that a battle for the political soul of millennial presidents may be fostering.
The tension that Bolic feels seems to reflect a broader phenomenon that I investigated 15 years ago. Since the turn of the century, Latin America has had two distinct political “lefts.” It is a moderate, democratic and globalized modern left and an anachronistic, nationalist, nationalist and authoritarian left.
A more moderate group is illustrated by the Government of Chile and Uruguay over the last two decades, and the Government of Brazil (despite its corruption) during two terms of President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. To a lesser extent, the first government of Bolivian President Evo Morales and the rule of the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front in El Salvador (despite its corruption) also fall into this category.
The radical left is illustrated by the late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and his carefully selected successor Nicolas Maduro, Ecuador’s Rafael Correa, Nicaragua’s President Daniel Ortega, and the Cuban Castro administration. Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador in Mexico, Pedro Castillo in Peru, Nestor Kirchner in Argentina, Christina Fernandez de Kirchner, Alberto Fernandez are difficult to classify, but they are all devoted to past doctrines and policies.
In Caracas, Havana, Mexico City and Buenos Aires, radical left-wing flag bearers seem to celebrate Chile’s election results and consider Bolic as one of them. But they may be disappointed.
For example, it is worth emphasizing the events that closely preceded the first round of the Chilean elections. The reelection of Ortega in a fake vote, the victory of Maduro’s landslide in a local election, and the suppression of planned protests by the Cuban administration forced Bolick coalition members to respond. The Communist Party and other parties eventually decided to congratulate Ortega and Maduro (after internal disagreements) and upheld Havana’s Castro administration, but both Bolick and his second-round allies told them. I didn’t join.
In addition to its recent history of Chile, the results of the second round, and the formation of a coalition government, there is good reason to think that Bolick may not rule like a typical Latin American left-wing populist. Instead, he may act like a European social democracy. It resembles Felipe Gonzalez, Spain’s first socialist prime minister after Spain returned to democracy in the 1970s. I certainly hope so for Chile and for Latin America. — Project Syndicate

•• Former Mexican Foreign Minister Jorge G. Castagneda is a professor at New York University.

http://www.gulf-times.com/story/706771/The-battle-for-Boric-s-soul Battle for the soul of Bolic

Back to top button